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Greensboro concert review from the News & Record newspaper
February 28, 2003

Updated Thu, Mar 06, 2003 - 12:56pm ET

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Many thanks to Lucy for sending this February 28, 2003 article to The Dent.


While an icy gale blew outside, a quiet storm swirled inside War Memorial Auditorium Wednesday evening. Pianist/singer Tori Amos held a sold-out crowd in thrall for more than two hours as she performed songs from her ambitious recent release, "Scarlet's Walk," and a smattering of songs from other albums.

Amos commands a large, loyal and mostly female following. Her allure calls to mind a line I once chanced upon while browsing a new-age newspaper: "Open up to the goddess energy." Amos' mesmerizing presence, elliptical tunes and gauzy voice speak to the feminine mystique. It recalls Stevie Nicks in her prime, when she'd induce rapture among young women with her tales of Rhiannon and the goddess within. The difference is that Amos has a more rarefied, intellectual sensibility reminiscent of her British role model, Kate Bush.

If you weren't familiar with "Scarlet's Walk" beforehand, you wouldn't have learned much about its themes and stories from attending the performance.

Amos' voice, processed with a healthy shot of reverb and delay, was a shimmering instrument, but the words themselves got lost in translation. Still, although her libretto - about her heroine Scarlet's quixotic ramblings and encounters with callous lovers and historic ghosts - was difficult to apprehend in a literal sense, her vocals' incantatory power transcended words.

An excellent rhythm section - bassist Jon Evans and drummer Matt Chamberlain - provided structure and solidity to complement her airy excursions into the ozone. Amos' voice soared above the bedrock rhythms, sometimes breaking into a pure soprano but more often ensconced in a Nicks-like, grainy midrange. Not coincidentally, Amos occasionally covers Nicks' "Landslide" in concert, although she did not in Greensboro.

She did, however, perform the Eagles' "Desperado," which plays into the themes of outlaw lovers and wide-open Western spaces mined on "Scarlet's Walk."

Amos possesses an intriguing catalog of voices, and although electronic processing detracted somewhat from their purity, it added to the dreamlike surrealism. Attired in black and wearing her "happy boots," she sat on a stool between a grand piano and two electronic keyboards. She'd switch between them, swiveling from acoustic to electric piano within the same song. Although the mood she wove was exquisitely lulling, there were occasional spikes of energy, as when she bore down on the key line in "Crucify," each syllable accentuated by a hard-struck drumbeat. Among her older material, the ethereal "Cornflake Girl" was another standout.

These weren't tunes that anyone left humming as they left the auditorium into the sleet-filled night, but the performance as a whole left an indelible impression upon the psyche.

Posted by: Mikewhy

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